Belleville Brûlerie’s first café-bar has become an instant classic in the trendy 10e arrondissement. Sip an espresso made with beans roasted in-house and nibble a jambon et beurre baguette while lounging on a signature Gatti rattan chair. Swing by at night for craft beer on tap and the occasional jazz soiree.
A Saint-Germain-des-Près institution since 1932, this familial French bistro – now under the direction of Alain Ducasse – is where locals go for traditional French fare. Order from seven classic dishes of the day and save room for the crème brûlée.
What Yann Couvreur’s much coveted mille feuille lacks in layers (he opts for cinq feuilles), it makes up for in creamy decadence with its signature Madagascar vanilla filling. Plan to visit early – only 50 are made each day and they disappear quickly.
Come for the Coutume coffee, stay for the all-day brunch. Cozy and always crowded, this ex-pat-owned canteen has put its name on the map with picture-perfect menu items, such as coriander-garnished shashuka eggs with feta, served in a cast iron skillet on a wooden board.
This seafood joint takes its name from Mott’s clam-infused tomato juice, the ingredient that separates a Caesar (hard to come by in Paris) from a Bloody Mary. Of course, there’s also an au courant list of champagnes to pair with oysters on ice. Order the wild mussels that come served with a slice of Boulangerie du Nil bread at the bottom, soaking up a savory, yellow-wine broth.
The French outpost of Jody Williams’ Manhattan restaurant, which, ironically, models itself as a Parisian wine bar, this Pigalle bistro draws from its land of inspiration to marvelous effect. A wide selection of wines pairs nicely with a menu of small plates, like crushed walnut and Parmesan pesto tartine, honey and orange-spiced fennel or coq au vin.
As one of only a couple dozen bakers in the exclusive Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris winner’s circle, Sébastien Mauvieux knows a thing or two about bread. His Montmarte bakery is the quintessential stop for your morning croissant fix. For a sweet treat, indulge with a pistachio-chocolate roll or a chouquette (or two, or three) to go.
Celebrate the art of French cuisine with food tours and classes led by experts. Options range from Fromage and Wine Discovery workshops to Intensive Technical Macaroon classes with sessions usually lasting around three hours. The French Market Tour and Cooking Class includes a tour of Marché Maubert followed by a lesson in the kitchen. Sessions are limited to 12 participants, so book in advance.
Stay on the pulse of Paris’ underground art scene at this graffiti-layered dockside warehouse. A fresh rotation of musicians (especially electro, hip hop and indie rock), edgy art and savage cuisine at Animal Kitchen, the culinary arm of Animal Records, draws crowds night and day. On warm days, have a drink on the rooftop terrace, Le Top, a local hotspot for its view of Canal Saint-Martin.
A glistening diamond in the woods of Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry’s silver-sailed glass structure houses LVMH’s collections of contemporary art. Highlights include contemplative works like Olafur Eliasson’s Inside the Horizon, a kaleidoscopic walkway in the Grotto that encircles the pool, as well as multi-medium pop art by John Cage and French artist Philippe Parreno.
Red, yellow and aqua-blue-threaded Moroso chairs give the wood-planked terrace a splash of colour and provide the ideal chaise lounge for a lazy afternoon. Refresh with cocktails, and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the art deco lido with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Nordic minimalism informs both the airy setup and light lunch menu of this two-level concept shop in Le Marais. Browse an assortment of labels, like Gosha Rubchinsky and Loewe, and discover up-and-coming designers while relishing a cup of specialty coffee.
Foodies of all flavours flock to Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche’s abundant pantry, which stocks more than 25,000 gourmet products. A bakery, patisserie, butcher, cheese shop and wine cellars offer spoils for sampling. Consult with one of the many wandering experts on what to take home, from the best regional olive oil or provincially harvested jams (Maison Dutriez’s Bar-le-Duc redcurrant is a sweet treat).
It’s okay to be nosy at this Montorgueil-area perfumery, where fragrance sniffing and mingling are encouraged. Find your signature scent by completing a one-minute diagnostic that determines your olfactory profile and recommends five perfumes for blind testing.
Still beloved by locals, Paris’ oldest covered market lies behind an inconspicuous iron gate in Le Marais. Sashay between the 20-some food stalls that cater to a wide range of international tastes, from couscous to burgers.
Located in the 16e arrondissement next to the Palais de Tokyo and Musée Guimet, the first European location of the Hong Kong-based hotel group offers the best Eiffel Tower views in the city. Start your day with cold-pressed juice at chef Christophe Moret’s supercharging B-Green wellness breakfast.
Tucked behind 900 square meters of leafy garden, the former residence of the Hermès family is an otherworldly retreat from the din of Montmartre’s artist quartier. Cinematic intrigue lurks at every turn in this 19th century mansion, from the Lynchian vibe in the bar – the Laura Palmer cocktail comes particularly recommended – to the neo-noir padded walls in the Claude Chabrol-inspired Vitrine Suite.
The architecturally keen will appreciate the storied history of this revamped hotel, originally designed in the 1970s by Bernard Zehrfuss. Pop-out windows in standard suites offer a retro outlook on Paris’ right bank (Canal Saint-Martin is within a stone’s throw) while doubling as cozy reading nooks.
The second Parisian outpost of hotelier and “Love Graffiti” artist André Saraiva – aka Mr. A – delivers big romance with 42 individually styled boudoirs, decorated with vintage furniture and original photography from the likes of Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. Cap your night off with a dirty martini at the velvet-curtained bar, open to 2 a.m., before sinking into a late-night bubble bath.
This flagship hotel for luxury brand Maison Albar may have only recently opened its doors, but whispers about room 1923 are already passing from ear to ear. With a skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows, the two-level, top floor suite possesses Parisian panoramas with La Canopée, Saint-Eustache church and the Eiffel Tower all in view. Each room is outfitted with iPad controls, so you can pull back the curtains without getting out of bed.
This boutique hotel’s immaculate rooms are reminiscent of small cocoons, thanks to their minimalist decor. Located on a quiet street, this art deco building is perfect for business travellers or those intent on exploring the nearby Marais and Place de la République.
In the heart of the 8e arrondissement, this “literary hotel” features 26 rooms (one for each letter of the alphabet), all named after notable authors. Start your day with a morning cappuccino on your room’s balcony overlooking the roofs of the surrounding Haussman buildings, or curl up with an iPad on loan from the reception, preloaded with works from the novelists highlighted on the property, from Diderot to Shakespeare.
To and from the airport, public transportation and more.
Getting from the airport
Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport is approximately 28 kilometres from the city centre, making for a 45-minute, €55 taxi ride. Line B (the blue line) of the RER commuter train travels from Roissy to several stops in the city centre, including Saint Michel and Gare du Nord, and costs about €10.
There’s no argument good enough to rent a car in Paris, not even bragging rights about driving in the Arc de Triomphe roundabout. Parking and traffic are a nightmare. The Metro, in contrast, is fast, efficient and inexpensive. Single tickets are €1.90, a book of ten (called a carnet) is €14.50. The Paris Visite tourist ticket is good for unlimited rides for a specific number of days.
Taxis can be found at designated taxi ranks, but they’re also fairly easy to hail in the street, except around the time of the last Metro at 12:40 a.m. from Sunday to Thursday and 1:40 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
You’ll have no need to hit the hotel gym here – Paris is a fantastic city to walk in, more compact than people realize.
The Vélib’ rent-a-bike system has been a phenomenal success; you’ll see their stands everywhere. Just unlock a bike after making a credit card deposit and you’ll be pedaling like a Parisian.
From neighbourhood bakeries to high-profile chains, discover the best places to crunch into a French classic.
By Isabelle Wolfmann-Berlandier
1. Le Grenier à Pain
In April 2015, Djibril Bodian won the competition for best baguette in the capital for a second time, meaning he’s once again the official purveyor of bread to the French president. Head to his shop on Rue des Abbesses in Montmartre to sample his exquisitely crusted, lightly golden brown creations, known for their appetizing, wheaty aroma.
The yellowish hue and subtle hazelnut taste of the pain des amis (bread of friends) are just two of the reasons why there’s always a lineup in front of this bakery, with its original 1870 painted glass ceilings and bevelled mirrors. Get your bread to go and enjoy it alongside the Saint-Martin Canal, just steps away.
Florentine Bachelet and Camille Rosso are among the city’s few female bakers. Pay them a visit to try their famous cocoa bread: They make it twice a day, and its generous chunks of chocolate keep everyone in the 17e arrondissement coming back for more.
When you break through one of Anthony Teixera’s golden-crusted baguettes, you discover a milky bread with perfect, honeycomb-like craters. It’s no surprise he took top honours in the annual baguette competition in 2014.
When he’s not baking bread or personally delivering it to the offices of various French ministries, Ridha Khadher is serving his goods to the locals in the working-class neighbourhood that is home to his bakery, which is hailed for baguettes with a well-baked crust and a distinctly wheaty perfume.
The owner is a TV personality who co-hosted the reality series La meilleure boulangerie de France (France’s Top Bakery), but in his shops the bold creations are the real stars, like his chickpea and lemon bread, curry multigrain and cuttlefish ink bread.
Poilâne began in 1932 in the original shop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where Pierre Poilâne would bake bread in a wood-fired oven. Neither the recipe (stone-ground wheat flour, yeast, water and sea salt) nor the spirit of simplicity has changed since then. Try one of the hardy, slightly tangy breads bearing the P for Poilâne and spread some salted butter on it, or order online and have it delivered to your hotel.
Former journalist Basile Kamir makes organic bread with natural yeast, such as the paresseuse (the lazy one), a baguette made from dough left to sit a very long time. Head to the original location on Rue Vercingétorix, where delightful aromas waft from an oven dating from the turn of the last century, or the outpost in the 2e arrondissement, where you can dine at the adjacent Bar du Moulin, which Kamir also owns.
There are now scores of Maison Kayser bakeries in greater Paris (and another 30 in Japan), but they still serve artisanal bread made with natural yeast, as well as their famous Monge baguette, which is prettily cream-tinged on the inside. If you’re out and about in Paris, it’s the ideal place to stop for a quick bite (sandwiches, salads and prepared dishes).
Several locations: maison-kayser.com
5. Maison Landemaine
After earning his stripes working for acknowledged masters like Pierre Hermé and Paul Bocuse, Rodolphe Landemaine went into business with his wife, Yoshimi, a baker from Japan. Do as the Parisians do and stop by one of their artfully decorated shops to sample their breads and pastries, such as the celebrated apple tart.